Ted Neeley makes for a wimpy looking Jesus in Norman Jewison's screen adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice "rock opera," which was a smash on stage in the early '70s. Jewison (Other People's Money) adds some good... more » exterior settings in the desert, but Lloyd Webber and Rice's dialogue-free story (everything is sung, as in a real opera), with its quasi-profundities about the inner demons of principal figures in the life of Christ, is the real hook. Yvonne Elliman sings the show's best-known song, "I Don't Know How to Love Him." --Tom Keogh« less
Jesus Christ Superstar Special Edition AND THEN SOME...
Lauren H. Lavine | Cleveland, Ohio | 05/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's absolutely fabulous. Please note buyers that if you want closed captioned and you don't see it listed in the description, not to fear because it does have closed captioned in English. It has everything the regular edition has plus a few more extras. I was really impressed with the quality of the picture as well as the sound. Also, because it's a widescreen version as well when you choose to use the closed captioning it doesn't get in the way of the picture which is a nice advantage. I believe you'll love it. The music is extraordinary. Ted Neeley was wonderful and Carl Anderson is extremely talented. It's a rock opera not a musical and every song tells the story. Truly ingenious the way it was produced. The fact that it was shot on location in Israel gives it the authenticity you don't always see in films. I recommend buying the soundtrack as well. You can't beat the wonderful price either."
"...and now the film"
Arthur J. Perez | San Francisco, California USA | 01/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Though it may seem dated, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR is still a film worth checking out. Ever since its origin as a concept recording, the subject and how it was presented caused its controversy for the time. The film may not be what everyone expected, but it is visually incredible. The sunsets over the Israeli deserts are awesome. The music, though not groundbreaking, is still some of the best work Andrew Lloyd Webber has written, as well as the lyrics of Tim Rice. The performances are incredible, notably Carl Anderson as Judas and Ted Neely as Jesus. Yvonne Elliman (Mary Magdalene) and Barry Dennen (Pilate) are the original actors of the concept album and Broadway adaptation of the rock opera. Scenes worth relishing: Heaven on Their Minds; The Last Supper; Gethsemane; and the title song. For early 70s nostalgia, the choreography in "Simon Zealotes" is fun. An added bonus on the DVD presentation is the dubbed French soundtrack. If I'm not mistaken, the singers are the same ones who performed in the Paris, France stage production of the early 70s. View with an open mind and enjoy!"
Beware the DVD transfer
cwlova | 03/26/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I've been a big fan of JCS ever since the concept album came out. Over the years, I have come to appreciate Norman Jewison's interpretation, as well as his magnificent landscape shots, more and more. For me, this telling of the Jesus story is much more moving than Mel's Passion, thus my extreme disappointment after buying the DVD version when I discovered that a simple transfer of the film to DVD had been made. Unlike the restoration effort of many other transfers, in this case, there was no attempt to upgrade the sound when it was put into a 5.1 format. In other words, the film was literally copied straight onto the DVD version with all of the tape hiss, high frequency machine noise, and other assorted crackles. Perhaps Universal didn't feel the extra effort was warranted due to financial concerns, but in a film where the sound is crucial, this lack of attention detracts from the viewing experience. This being said, the DVD is still worth owning, particularly for an economical 15 bucks or less. Just beware of the sound quality."
One of the best movie/musicals of all time
cwlova | grosse point | 04/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It took me almost two years (and a recent viewing of the new JCS movie) to fully appreciate the masterpiece that is Jesus Christ Superstar, the 1973 film. Told entirely through catchy, rock opera music, it tells the story of the last seven days in the life of Jesus Christ, but is hardly a literal interpretation and consists mostly of the drama between Judas and Jesus. The point of the film is to show the bible in a new way- that everyone, even Jesus's closest disciples helped contribute to the death of Jesus through their inescapable humanism. Filmed in the Jerusalem desert, the production is wonderful. It's as if the best singers, film makers, dancers, musicians, and songwriters (Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice) came together for this one movie. Carl Anderson stars as Judas and is arguably the best performer to ever perform the role. Ted Neeley is fantastic too even though it takes a while to "get" the strenghth in his underacting. Norman Jewison, who's experience and creativity as director shines through with every scene, takes the musical to another level, using a brilliantly conceptual theme that is introduced at the very beginning of the film. The locations are beautiful and fit perfectly within the context of the story. The film has great music, the ideas it tries to get across are poignant, and it is much, much better than the new film in its directing, acting, choreograpphy, and singing."
Upon a second look thirty years later...
Kevin Joyce | Bethlehem, PA United States | 04/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this movie as a teen. I knew all the songs, as kids with cool older brothers and sisters all had the record the nuns wouldn't let us hear. So of course we listened, and as with all forbidden fruit,it was OK. When I saw the movie in the 70's I was very disappointed. I had my own personal vision of the opera, one very dissimilar to Mr. Jewison's ( and likely different from Mr.'s Rice and Webber.) The mixing of guns and spears, scaffolding and ruins, tanks, planes and caftans was an anachronistic mess. It seemed a waste.
Since then my tastes have matured, and this holy week I decided to treat my daughter to some religious movies: Godspell, Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ Superstar. I always like the first, relished the second, and was embarrassed for the third. To my surprise, things have changed. Godspell has not aged well ( though it still bounces) as the hippie Jesus is very dated. ( "Daddy, why is Jesus a clown?") Jesus of Nazareth is a pondering, overly earnest mess. While reverent, it is now lugubrious. (" Daddy, can I sleep now?"" Why does his mommy (at the crucifixtion) look younger than Jesus"?) But Superstar was a revelation.
Ted Neely was a very good, not great choice, fair in voice, and rugged for a first century man. He had an air of confidence and understanding, with an insight his apostles had not yet gained. Simon Zealots was over the top, but he was a zealot. Pilate was more pious than I expected, Annas and Caiaphas were inspired. Josh Mostel is a fine comedian for a singer, as Herod. Yvonne Ellimnan in fair voice ( more on this later) as Mary Magdeline. But it was Carl Anderson, positively mesmerizing as Judas, who made the movie.A choice I felt seemed almost racist in 1974, now seems inspired. While Judas was always the center of Superstar, Anderson sings and acts through the gamut of emotions, making it his film. I will never again think of another in ths role.
The planes and tanks and guns are now seen symbolically, and what once seemed anachronistic is now timeless. The starkness of the locale puts the show first. The dancing, which at the time seemed very over the top, seems appropriate in a post MTV world.
Sure there are problems. It still has a hippie edge, but it has aged much much better than the other two discussed above. The sound on the DVD is an abomination, as stated in other reviews. It should be remixed and released again. Some of the daring camera techniques ( slowing the dancers down, stuttering them etc.) seem "tricky" and distracting. But overall I enjoyed this more than I ever thought possible.
If you are looking for a literal biblical film, this is not it,( but then neither is the Passion of the Christ or any other blockbuster). You will never please all people, and I am certain there are those who view a movie like this as sacrilege. To each their own. For me, it really is a nice movie, and if you put aside your own preconceived notions of what Superstar should be, you might enjoy it a lot. I know I did. Buy it, rent it, give it a try."